This past Friday night Toni Tortorilla, a "transpersonal counselor" and a priestette created by Roman Catholic Womenpriests, performed a make believe "Mass" here in Eugene, Oregon, at the First Christian Church (see this previous post). This past July, Tortorilla was "ordained" a priestette, along with her lesbian partner (who was "ordained" as a deaconette), in Portland, Oregon. A number of Catholics contacted Dan Bryant, senior pastor at First Christian, and asked that he cancel the event in Eugene, but to no avail. About 15 Catholics assembled in quiet protest, and some of them, including a friend of mine, went inside for part of the service. He said that about 60-70 folks were in attendance, the vast majority of them women (and many of them apparently lesbian). Many of those in attendance were from two Catholic parishes: St. Jude and the Newman Center; both have a reputation for being a bit, uh, loose with Church teaching. The organist at the event was reportedly the organist/choir leader for the Newman Center, and the "communion" helpers included a couple from St. Jude parish.
Here is a part of the program/"missal" for the event:
It should be pointed out that the larger context of Pope Benedict's remarks, made in an interview with German journalists, is as follows:
Holy Father, women are very active in many different areas of the Catholic Church. Shouldn't their contribution become more clearly visible, even in positions of higher responsibility in the Church?
We reflect a lot about this subject, of course. As you know, we believe that our faith and the constitution of the college of the apostles obliges us and doesn't allow us to confer priestly ordination on women.
But we shouldn't think either that the only role one can have in the Church is that of being a priest. There are lots of tasks and functions in the history of the Church. Starting with the sisters of the Fathers of the Church, up to the Middle Ages when great women played fundamental roles, up until modern times.
Think about Hildegard of Bingen who protested strongly before the bishops and the pope; of Catherine of Siena and Brigit of Sweden. In our own time, too, women, and we with them, must look for their right place, so to speak.
Today they are present in the departments of the Holy See. But there's a juridical problem: According to canon law the power to take legally binding decisions is limited to sacred orders. So there are limitations from this point of view but I believe that women themselves, with their energy and strength, with their superiority, with what I'd call their "spiritual power," will know how to make their own space.
And we will have to try to listen to God so as not to stand in their way but, on the contrary, to rejoice when the female element achieves the fully effective place in the Church best suited to her, starting with the Mother of God and with Mary Magdalen.
The service included songs by Marty Haugen (shocker!) and the Creed was "excerpted from Joan Chittister":
Because, of course, the Creed articulated and defined by the Councils of Nicaea and Constantinople simply won't do, being so filled with male pronouns and archaic language unsuitable for priestettes. The "Lord's Prayer" opened with the words, "Our Mother, Our Father..." The service concluded with "Sing a New Church."
Tortorilla, I've learned, works (at least part-time) for Northeast Catholic Counseling Services (NCCS) in Portland, Oregon. I've also been told, by someone familiar with the situation, that Archbishop John G. Vlazny is upset about all of this and has communicated to NCCS that Tortorilla needs to be released from her work there or else NCCS will face having its status as "Catholic" revoked. Some will, no doubt, see such actions as another sign of male oppression. But it is actually a matter of renouncing what my pastor aptly describes as "identity theft." Tortorilla is pretending to be something/someone she is not, and therefore will face consequences, just as those who pretend to be policemen, doctors, etc., have to answer, if caught, for their harmful impersonations. Hopefully she will realize that the eternal consequences for her actions are severe, and that she should not presume that God will take lightly her scandalous actions against the Church, the liturgy, and, most importantly, against Jesus Christ and the Eucharist.